Point-Counterpoint: How did Harden’s move to Houston Impact the Hornets?

Published: October 28, 2012

Unwilling to offer him a max contract, the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Houston Rockets. How does it affect the Hornets, both short-term and long-term?

As a result of a trade that seemingly came out of nowhere, shooting guard James Harden is now a member of the Houston Rockets. Mason Ginsberg and Michael McNamara debate the effect that these moves will have on the Hornets this year and beyond.



Ginsberg: Let’s be honest – we all know deep down that, given the strength and depth of the Western Conference, cracking the top 8 and making the playoffs was going to be a long shot for the Hornets this season. Unfortunately, this trade pushes New Orleans even further away from playoff contention, as the Rockets’ roster is now much improved from the position it was in just 24 hours ago. Though they still have a gaping hole at the power forward position, a core of Lin/Harden/Parsons/Asik is one that could flirt with the eighth seed immediately.

Looking back at my Western Conference Preview from early August, this trade moves the Rockets from Tier 3 to Tier 2, right up there with the Mavs, Warriors and Hornets. If the team can stay healthy and get enough production from their frontcourt (Patterson/Asik/Motiejunas/White/Aldrich is still one HUGE question mark), the playoffs are not entirely out of the question.

To put this bluntly, the only effect this trade has on the Hornets in the short-term is that it could help them in the 2013 NBA draft by netting them a slightly better draft pick (and/or better chance at the #1 pick).

McNamara: Lin/Harden/Asik or Gordon/Anderson/Davis ? Look, most games in the NBA are won or lost by how well or how poorly your three best guys play and there is no doubt in my mind that the Hornets have the superior Big Three– by a fairly wide margin. James Harden is a nice player who got the benefit of being covered by another team’s third best wing defender the last couple of years in OKC, but he will be the first guy on oppossing teams’ scouting reports now that he is in Houston.

Beyond that, the timing of this trade is going to effect the Rockets chances of succeeding early. This is not a video game, nor is the game played on paper. Harden will go into the season having not played with any of his teammates, nor they with him. Chemistry, coaching, top level talent- the Hornets have a clear advantage in all three categories. The Rockets aren’t finishing above New Orleans this year. Plain and simple.



Ginsberg: The effects here will largely depend on the results of the 2013 draft, but as of right now, the Hornets should stand to benefit from this trade. Had the Thunder re-signed Harden to a long-term deal, Oklahoma City would have had their juggernaut team in place for at least the next few seasons, which could have presented a significant hurdle for the Hornets once their current lineup matures. Instead, they were forced to move Harden to a team willing to give him a max contract, receiving an older, less talented SG in return in Kevin Martin (though one who may very well re-sign for less to stay with OKC at this point in his career). In addition, however, the Thunder received this year’s 12th overall pick, SG Jeremy Lamb, as well as the Raptors’ and Mavericks’ 2013 first round picks and the Bobcats’ 2013 second round pick.

Should Oklahoma City strike gold with these picks, we may come to substantially regret this trade. At the moment, though, this deal appears to break up would could have been a 4-legged monster for the next half-decade and give a little more hope to those teams which are so excited for their futures, such as the New Orleans Hornets.

McNamara: The Thunder aren’t keeping these picks, who are we kidding? Heck, they might not even keep Kevin Martin for much longer than the 60 days that they will have to wait until they can package him in a deal with another player. What the Thunder did here was acquire assets that they can turn into another quasi-star down the road when prices go down. Did you ever notice how much more value teams get trading for guys right before the deadline? Guys get had for pennies on the dollar and the Thunder will have a huge expiring, a lotto pick, and three picks that will be between 20 and 34 that they can dangle.

They can move Perkins, PJ III, and the Dallas pick to Utah for Al Jefferson if the Jazz would prefer something rather than losing him for nothing. They could ship Kevin Martin and a package of picks to Cleveland for Andy Varejao or move Perkins and Lamb plus the Toronto pick to Atlanta for Al Horford. There will be tons of options for a team with three fantastic core members and a smart GM to end this season better off  long term than they would have been paying four guys but have no money for any role players.

In my opinion, OKC might have taken a step back short term but they have a chance to take a giant leap forward long-term and that is downright scary.


What do you guys think? In the grand scheme of things, what does this trade mean for the Hornets? There are tons of great points to be made for either side, which is what makes trades like this so enjoyable to break down.


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